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Kate's Boston J1 Summer

Read Kate's account of her J1 summer in Boston – ‘A Home Away From Home’:

"It was second semester of fourth year in college and my friends and I needed some motivation to carry us through the semester. We had heard from several people that a J1 was an amazing thing to do, because you can make money and travel while also living with your friends for an entire summer. We also knew that this was our last chance to do one as it was our last year at college. Once we had made our decision to do a J1, we picked Boston as it was one of the closer cities to home and we had heard that there were plenty of Irish people there too.

We arrived in the evening and took the train to downtown Boston to our hostel where we stayed for three nights. Prior to our arrival we had arranged some house viewings through websites such as ‘Craigslist’ and ‘Zillow’ however the viewings were not suited to our location.  As soon as we bought American sims for our phones, we contacted landlords directly and within the first three days we managed to get an apartment in an area called Brighton. This was 40 minutes from the city by train, and 20 minutes from where we worked in Newton. This location was ideal for us because we did not have a long commute to work.  

We began work in a country club as waitresses a week later and we got a warm welcome from employers and members alike. We enjoyed our work as the environment there was slow-paced, and we built up a good relationship with the members. We worked around 30 hours a week which was great because we had plenty of time for activities.

My first month was both exciting and challenging. It took us a few weeks to settle in at the start as we had to find our way around the city and get used to America in general. Boston was an easy city to get around because of its metro system. At the beginning, we had many things to do e.g. set up a bank account, get a social security number etc. Once we had completed these tasks, our J1 felt like a three-month-long holiday. The Americans were very helpful, and they would occasionally go out of their way to point us in the right direction when we looked completely lost.

We also found that people at our workplace were always able to give us relevant information whenever we needed it. For example, we were told to download the taxi app Lyft instead of Uber because it was cheaper. This was how we settled in smoothly into our first month. Boston was an excellent city with people of all ages and ethnicities. Massachusetts is the most Irish state in America, which meant that Boston was like a home away from home. We frequently found ourselves being approached by strangers asking us about where we were from and they would exchange stories about their Irish ancestry.

There were Irish pubs everywhere and an abundance of GAA clubs crying out for Irish to join their teams for the Summer. We were even able to locate Barry’s tea at a market! 

Of course, there are many different Boston districts where people from all over the world have made their mark. There is the beautiful Italian quarter, Chinatown and the famous Quincy market- which offers food from all different countries. Faneuil Hall is a place with buskers and markets and a vibrant atmosphere during the day. My favourite thing about Boston was the unlimited amount of activities that we were able to do. We were never bored in this city!

We kayaked down the Charles River which gave us a different view of the city- compared to the Prudential Center where you see the whole city from 52 floors above ground level.

We took boat trips out around islands nearby and got to do some whale watching too. There is a great selection of shops and malls which can be reached by the metro. We visited the famous Harvard University where many films have been set. As Boston is the home of the Red Sox, it was only a rite of passage to check out a baseball game at Fenway Park. My first baseball game was a cultural experience, to say the least, and the atmosphere was spectacular.

We also took a trip to Newport. This is a small seaside town which is said to be the twin town of Kinsale, Co. Cork. This description depicts the place perfectly. We took a bus from Boston,  which took us about 2 hours. While we were there, we did a cliff walk with amazing views and in the evening, we went on a sunset cruise around the harbour to watch the sunset. It was one of the best memories, which I will take home with me forever.

For me, the J1 was totally carefree as our only duty was to go to work and after that, our free time was our own, with little responsibility and no study to worry about. With so many others on a J1, I was constantly surrounded by people my age which meant that there was always something fun and exciting happening.

If I were to give advice to someone doing a J1, I would say to try to find a job where you and your friends have similar schedules. Don’t let homesickness spoil your time out there, because the summer honestly goes so fast and it’s a brilliant opportunity for you to spend time with friends. Finally, travel to different places in the USA whenever possible."

Read more blogs: Rebecca's New York J1 Experience, Cara's Ocean City J1 Summer, 5 Tips For Making The Most Of Your J1 Experience, Shanice's J1 Myrtle Beach Experience.

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